I recently did a post on the Fire 3 Creeper/Simulated Pressure which is an edge pressure coming from the Field or wide-side. Smoke is the same pressure from the Boundary, or short-side of the field. I want to show Smoke being run from different Fronts, pre-snap looks, bluffs, and coverages to help coaches who are looking to install Creepers and Sim Pressures into their defensive package.
Creepers and Simulated Pressures are pressures that brings a non-traditional rusher (a LB or DB) in exchange for dropping a traditional rusher (DL). These “extra safe” pressures only requires 4 rushers and they do not sacrifice coverage in pressuring Offenses. My last article on Creepers vs. Simulated Pressures talked about how Creepers are run from base looks whereas Simulated Pressures are run from pressure looks to simulate six-man pressures.
Smoke – 5-0 FrontFirst, let’s talk about 5-0 Fronts. They are great for forcing teams into Big-On-Big protections. Once you know a team’s protection adjustment, you can pinpoint and specifically attack a small area of that protection with a 4 man Simulated Pressure that overloads it and still leaves you in base coverage with 7 droppers. Rex Ryan had this in his playbook as a Creeper and called it Odd Ram Pack, but he is notorious for simulating pressure and stressing protections and QBs by walking up defenders. You can run Smoke from a base look as a Creeper but running it as a Simulated Pressure from a 5-0 Front will help it to get to the QB in passing situations.
This first 5-0 Front is an easy adjustment from the Mint Front with the Mike LB walking up on the edge. Rex Ryan ran a similar Front called “Muff” (Mike Up to Field) with the Mike walked up to the Field-side edge.
This second 5-0 Front is a simple adjustment from a 40 Front. TCU calls this front Outlaw with both DTs lined up outside the Guards. Now, you simply Mug the Mike over the Center to create the 5-0 Front. This is a good way to show a different 5-0 look to teams but it keeps everyone’s assignment relatively the same (except for the drops of the two Hook defenders).
1. The first cut-up shows 2018 LSU vs. Rice. Dave Aranda has LSU in the 5-0 Front shown above with the Mike mugged up on the Center. The QB sees the pressure coming, panics because there is no “Hot” throw like there is vs. a traditional Fire Zone, and then scrambles, where he is quickly tackled by the Mike LB. I see an inordinate amount of QB scrambles on film from Sim Pressures. They don’t always result in a Sack, but forcing a QB scramble with 7 zone defenders behind it is generally a win for the Defense.
2. Manny Diaz and Miami have Toledo in a 3rd and 10 and are in a 3-2 Dime look. They create a 7-man look with a Mug by both LBs over the Guards and two DBs in Press alignment before the motion that the Offense must respect as potential rushers. The OL looks to be in a 6-man ½ man, ½ slide Protection with the Back check-releasing. The OL slides in the direction of the blitz and the LB over the Guard takes a small step as well to get the Guard’s attention before he decides to help the Center on the NT. The DE takes two steps forward before slanting inside so the Guard doesn’t see him right away. This small detail helps to get an unblocked defender and a good hit on the QB, even though it results in a completion. The reason for the completion is that both Hook defenders dropped in the same direction, leaving the Back uncovered where the Hook player should have been.
3. 2016 Troy vs. Clemson. DC Vic Koenning mugs a LB up to the side of the blitz and the DB to the Field is threatening the edge before getting back outside in his Rip-Liz coverage. It looks like 5-0 protection with the Back check-releasing. The DE has a 2-way Go on the Guard, who whiffs. The DB rushing off the edge has pass rush contain and can’t peek inside like he does here, but he does draw the Holding call when he works to get back outside. Troy did an amazing job keeping the 2016 National Champions off-balance, picking off Deshaun Watson twice, and should have won this game.
4. 2018 Steelers are in a 40 Front vs the Eagles with a LB walked up off the weak edge. This 5-man look puts the Eagles in Big-on-Big protection with the Back and TE check-releasing. The DE beats the Guard and the Will LB is outside where he should be in pass rush contain. They get the QB to the ground as he gets off a Pass for only a 1 yd gain.
5. 2018 Bears vs Jets. The outside rusher loses pass rush contain but the Bears force a scramble and a throw-away. (Note: if ever elected NFL Commissioner, I promise to fix this Bears wide-angle film for good!)
6. 2018 Giants vs Bucs. The Giants are up by 10 late in the game and are simulating pressure from a 6-man Front. The Guard is flummoxed as both LBs over him drop out and the Offense escapes only with a QB scramble for a short gain.
7. The 2018 Steelers run Smoke as a Creeper from a 40 Front vs. the Chargers and they get the edge rusher free, causing a rushed throw and a loss of a yard.
8. The 2017 Steelers are in a 40 Front vs. the Ravens, but now they are in Quarters coverage and they get an INT off the Boot Play-Action. The LBs do a great job of looking up the crossers coming from the other direction. A benefit of Creepers and Sim Pressures that I have seen on film more than once is having that extra guy in coverage vs. the Play-Action Boot Pass that is usually wide open.
9. The 2017 Texans are in a 5-0 Front vs Colts with Cover 6 (Quarter, Quarter, Halves) behind it. The Colts are in Big-on Big protection with the Back scanning both sides. Creepers and Simulated Pressures won’t always get you a free rusher, but here it gets a very good one-on-one match-up vs. the Back with him having to come from the opposite side, resulting in a Sack.
Smoke is an effective pressure to have in your Creeper and Sim Pressure package. If you have questions, leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter at @BarryHoover.